NSW outbreak sees 15 deaths at home
At least 15 people have now died at home of COVID-19 during the NSW outbreak, after two Sydney men in their 30s and 40s died at home.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the deaths did not indicate any problems with home care provided to COVID-19 patients.
A number of the people who died at home had never come to the attention of NSW Health or even their GP, Mr Hazzard said.
Others don't wish to leave their families to enter hospital. Some deteriorate very quickly, he said.
"This is a ... virus that's highlighting some of the inequities in our community, and in some households it can be a very large household where only one or two people are working," he said.
"I think there is a reluctance, in many instances, for people to want to actually tell us that they are actually not well, because they want to go on earning income."
He reminded NSW residents that financial support was available and urged people to seek medical care if they become unwell, particularly if they have difficulty breathing.
Most of those who have died at home were residents of south west or western Sydney.
The two men were among eight deaths reported on Saturday.
The others were a man in his 50s, two people in their 70s and three people in their 80s. None were vaccinated.
There were 1599 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday.
Cases are expected to peak in the next week, putting significant strain on hospitals and ambulances.
Some 1164 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital, including 221 in intensive care.
Around 90 critically ill COVID-19 patients have had to be transferred by aircraft between hospitals while ventilated over the last three weeks, NSW Ambulance air retrievals specialist Brian Burns said.
One was a woman who had just given birth and most are not vaccinated, he said.
Dr Burns assured NSW residents that wherever a critically ill person is based in the state, they can be transported to a hospital to give them care.
Mr Hazzard on Saturday defended the government's decision to end daily COVID-19 press conferences on Sunday.
The health team needs "clear air" to think through the COVID-19 response and reducing the frequency of the media conferences will save time, he said.
Most of the state is locked down as authorities battle to contain the spread of the virulent Delta strain of the virus.
Thousands of NSW residents in a handful of COVID-free regional areas are enjoying their first day of freedom in four weeks.
Stay-at-home restrictions have lifted for much of the state's northeast and southwest, including the regional centres of Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Albury.
But residents of Byron Bay and Bangalow in northern NSW are on high alert after traces of the virus was found in sewage.
There have also been sewage detection in Jindabyne, Harden, Moruya, Yass, Port Macquarie, Trangie and Young.
© AAP 2021